Now that we've broken down the Buffalo Bills' Week 8 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last season, we'll wrap that game up in a nice little bow by re-examining some of the post-game rhetoric following that devastating loss. We'll start with the immediate post-game discussion, then move on to breakdowns offered here by Der Jaeger and Ron From NM.
Post-game: In the post-game recap, I focused on the negative. I suppose I did that because the Bills had just dropped to 0-7 in excruciating fashion, and had once again found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Through the haze of yet another befuddling loss, I managed to hit on most of the salient points (Ryan Fitzpatrick's interception, the inability to slow down Jamaal Charles, and Todd Haley's clutch overtime timeout), but wish I'd spent more time talking about Buffalo's offensive line. The Bills really struggled to run the football at Arrowhead, and Fitzpatrick's 43 rushing yards (which I did bring up) were a function of his being constantly harassed thanks to generally poor pass blocking.
Der Jaeger's good and bad: Kudos to DJ for pointing out that Paul Posluszny played reasonably well in this game, when his performance was something easily missed as the Bills again surrendered huge amounts of rushing yardage. There are a couple of points (or questions, really) that DJ raised that I think can be addressed here after the re-watch.
First, DJ offered some thoughts on how the team could improve its run defense. I'll leave the 3-4 stuff out of the equation here, as the Bills weren't using a lot of that alignment anymore, and instead focus on this:
The defensive line needs to draw double-teams. The only guy that does so on a regular basis is Kyle Williams, though he's not playing a true two-gap zero technique while doing so.
From what I've seen three games into this re-watch, Williams has seen double-teams, but not as many as Torell Troup and Marcus Stroud. Neither of Williams' teammates were adept at handling double-teams, often getting driven 3-5 yards backwards when they were. That created huge, gaping running lanes, allowed a single blocker to seal Williams off when he tried to shoot a gap, and also allowed Chiefs blockers to easily reach the second level. DJ was right, to an extent: Bills linemen were getting double-teamed. They just handled them very poorly.
Secondly, DJ asked why the Bills' offensive game plan didn't mimic the Chiefs' - i.e., why the Bills didn't run the ball more often.
I know Chan Gailey likes to get his playmakers the ball in space, but Buffalo is under similar conditions to the Chiefs. Why not pound the football, limit mistakes, and protect the defense?
The answer to that one is simple: they straight-up couldn't run the football. Fred Jackson averaged 3.2 yards per rush in the game. The only effective runner was Fitzpatrick. C.J. Spiller had a nice run or two, but a fumble kept him out of the action. Chan Gailey was effectively able to keep the Chiefs honest with some draws, but there was no way the Bills were going to win that game by running the ball. That brings us to a point Ron made.
Ron's O-Line notes: The most astute observation Ron made in his weekly O-Line breakdown was the fact that the Bills did a lot less pulling against Kansas City - not only in the passing game (remember Andy Levitre's pulls in pass protection against Baltimore?), but in the running game, as well. The Bills played things straight up, for the most part, and were physically overwhelmed by the Chiefs' physical front seven all day.
Cordaro Howard struggled more than any other Bills lineman, as most of us saw live that day, but looking back, I was surprised at how well Geoff Hangartner graded. This was one of the poorer games I've seen him play. He did not operate well in space, and struggled at the point of attack (the latter of which is not a surprise). He's a wall-off blocker that really struggled with Ron Edwards on this day.